The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis

  • by Sheldon M. Stern
  • Narrated by Bob Dunsworth
  • 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Cuban missile crisis was the most dangerous confrontation of the Cold War and the most perilous moment in American history. In this dramatic narrative written especially for students and general listeners, Sheldon M. Stern, longtime historian at the John F. Kennedy Library, enables the listener to follow the often harrowing twists and turns of the crisis.
Based on the author's authoritative transcriptions of the secretly recorded ExComm meetings, the book conveys the emotional ambiance of the meetings by capturing striking moments of tension and anger as well as occasional humorous intervals. Unlike today's readers, the participants did not have the luxury of knowing how this potentially catastrophic showdown would turn out, and their uncertainty often gives their discussions the nerve-racking quality of a fictional thriller. As President Kennedy told his advisers, "What we are doing is throwing down a card on the table in a game which we don't know the ending of."
Stern documents that JFK and his administration bore a substantial share of the responsibility for the crisis. Covert operations in Cuba, including efforts to kill Fidel Castro, had convinced Nikita Khrushchev that only the deployment of nuclear weapons could protect Cuba from imminent attack. However, President Kennedy, a seasoned Cold Warrior in public, was deeply suspicious of military solutions to political problems and appalled by the prospect of nuclear war. He consistently steered policy makers away from an apocalyptic nuclear conflict, measuring each move and countermove with an eye to averting what he called, with stark eloquence, "the final failure."
The book is published by Stanford University Press.

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What the Critics Say

"The Week the World Stood Still is an impressive work of scholarship that is also highly recommended for non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history of the Cold War era." (The Midwest Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Hard to finish, pretty dry.

I was inspired to listen to this book because I recently finished a fictional book in which the Cuban Missile Crisis played a key role. I hoped to gain some insight into the news of the day, the feel of the crisis, and how the public reacted. I guess this was the wrong book for me, because it's a moment-to-moment reaccount of recorded conversations in the Oval Office. Interesting for a while, but hours of this is hard to listen to.

The narration was clear but rather cold and monotonous. Hour after hour he speaks in the same tone.

I also figured this would be fairly intriguing and it was just dry and dull. A few minor dust-ups in the diaglogue, no information at all about the public reaction to the crisis. I suppose that for JFK and other historical scholars it might be interesting, but just barely.
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- Bruce

Stunningly Bad Narrator

it is truly impossible to describe the shock when somebody mispronounces the names that are essential to the story. The mispronunciation of Greenwich is perhaps a high-crime. How does Bob Dunsworth have a job doing this? Made this professional historian cringe. Frequently.
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- Donald J. Kinney "DJ"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-21-2012
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks